By Larry Alton, @LarryAlton3
Not so many years ago, Instagram was in its infancy. Now it’s the fastest-growing social media platform, and one of the top five social networks businesses use to market their websites.
Through the use of this image-based platform, companies can relate to their customers on a more personal level, generate more valuable leads and increase brand awareness across the Web. The platform offers a lot of potential for your business, but only if you have enough followers to make it worth snagging their notice.
Now’s a great time to start marketing on Instagram. According to research from Brandwatch, nearly 50 percent of brands are active on Instagram. By the end of 2017, that percentage is expected to rise to more than 70 percent.
The projection is based on the considerable evidence from companies that have experienced the effectiveness of an Instagram account. Ninety of the top 100 brands in the world have an account on this platform because they know that consumer engagement is 10 times higher on Instagram than on Facebook, 54 times higher than on Pinterest, and 84 times higher than on Twitter.
Since it can boast of 500 million active users every day, Instagram likely has incredible potential for your firm. But you’ll only reap the benefits of using the network for marketing if you gather sufficient followers.
Here are some tips on how to boost your following on Instagram.
1. GET A LITTLE HELP
Though you can take simple steps to boost your volume of followers on your own, it can be a lot easier to depend on Instagram automation tools like Instagress, Mass Planner, PeerBoost and others. These tools can automate tasks and increase the reach of your brand.
Handling your Instagram account on your own can be too large a job for one person. Automation tools can save your business money and increase the effectiveness of your social activities.
2. SHARE RELATABLE CONTENT
You less likely to entice people to stop and engage with your content as they scroll through an endless stream of Instagram photos if you don’t make the content relatable. Your posts should be personable, unique, and original, so they establish a connection that’s unique to your brand and customer base.
3. POST AT OPTIMIZED TIMES
Social posts will go through cycles depending on the time of day. If you don’t post when your users are most likely to see it, your content risks getting lost in the pile of consumer-generated Instagram posts.
For optimum exposure, post when your readers are awake; pay attention to time zones and breaks during as well as after work. Research has also indicated that Wednesdays and Thursdays are peak engagement days.
Also, consider using a tool like Hootsuite or Sprout Social to set reminders for your posts (currently they cannot be scheduled without manually posting them within the actual Instagram mobile app). Still, the benefits of using social media management tools for the network is the ability to monitor comments and manage multiple accounts.
4. USE TEXT AND PHOTO CAPTIONS
People are hungry for stories, and though a photo is worth 1,000 words, sometimes it may require 1,050 to get the whole story across. Clever captions, useful info, hashtags and anecdotes that highlight your image will entice readers to read more and even check out your bio, where they can click on a link to your website.
5. COMPLETELY FILL OUT YOUR BIO
Speaking of bios, it’s essential that yours is complete and filled with valuable information. It should include a call-to-action, branded hashtags, and links to your website, blog or a related entity. Take some space to talk about who you are, what you do, and why people should follow you. Bronto Software provides a good example because we know what they use IG for (to promote their software, their employee life and to show off their mascot while asking for pictures from others as well):
6. HOST CONTESTS
Contests on Instagram are gaining in popularity because they make excellent marketing tools for companies. Contests are easy to create and run through this platform because it’s image-based.
Whether you’re offering giveaways, discounts, gift cards, or another prize, you can use pictures and cleverly worded captions to make the most of your contest and spread the word about your brand – but always make sure to follow network guidelines.
7. DON’T BUY FOLLOWERS
Purchasing followers is tempting, but it could end up hurting your business. Often, the money spent here doesn’t pay back in customer conversions and profits, which means you’ll lose money rather than investing it in a profitable venture.
8. IMPROVE YOUR HASHTAG GAME
According to research from Brandwatch, Instagram posts with hashtags receive 12.6 percent more engagement than those without. You should employ hashtags regularly to categorize your posts and help others follow you. You can create your own or use trending hashtags to bring more attention to your brand.
9. FOLLOW OTHERS
Look for other organizations or individuals that have a similar business structure and client base. When you follow them, you build a community in which you can get to know potential customers and learn marketing tactics that other businesses use to create their following.
10. WORK WITH INFLUENCERS
Influencers, also called brand ambassadors, will endorse your products and services to create timeless word-of-mouth marketing. Since nearly three-quarters of customers trust recommendations from people on social media, even if they don’t know them personally, this can be a powerful boost for your firm’s Instagram following.
Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer and researcher who contributes to a number of reputable online media outlets and news sources. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he’s also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.